Robbing Prevention

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Robbing Prevention

SPEAKER:
Hi there. I wanna talk to you today about robbing behaviour. It’s July 15th, we’re out putting bees keeps on colonies this year and we’re starting to see a little bit of robbing behaviours, so I thought it’s a good time to film this video. Robbing behaviour, bees will go from their hive to anything around them that’s sweet and try to steal that. So, that could be honey that’s exposed, they’re not inside a hive, or it could be going into a hive and getting after the honey that’s stored in a hive. When bees learn where there’s food, they go back and they do a dance inside the hive. We all know that they can indicate where to go to find flowers at some distance. But, when the resource is quite close by, like in the period where the bee hive is located, they do around it. So, that’s just a little round dance and all it tells the other bees is, get out and get lucky. So then, you’ll start seeing these (UNKNOWN) cracks, anywhere they can smell any bit of honey, they’ll look for an entrance into the colony. 

So, they’re very good at communicating that and bobbing can turn on very quickly. So, what we try to do is prevent robbing, not being able to eliminate. We really are just trying to minimise the damage that could occur. Robbing can spread diseases from one colony, so that’s a prime reason why honeybees get American foulbrood from other sick hives, is hives, bees from hives that are healthy get out and steal honey from the diseased hive and bring it home. So, many different scenarios you end up in, where you get some kind of bee robbing. Harvesting honey is one. So, what we do is we keep the honey covered as we’re harvesting it so not a lot of scent is coming off to attract the bees. And, it eliminates their access to the honey. So, if you take a (UNKNOWN) out, keep it covered up until you get inside your honey house. So, when we put bee escapes on, we have to be especially careful that there is no holes. There’s a bee escape on here. We have to make sure there’s no holes above that bee escape. 

Once these bees clear down through the bee escape, come down through these openings here, there’s no bees up here to protect the honey. And, if there happened to be a hole, robber bees will get in there and steal that honey. And then, there’s a lot of fighting, the dead bees from the fighting get clogged up the bee escape and it’s just a bad situation. If there is anywhere where bees can get in through a little crack, we tape that up with painter’s tape, push it down really well and seal it up. And, it only needs to be on there for three nights. We leave the bee escapes on for three nights and then we can take that tape off at that point. So, good solid equipment is the best defense there. But, if you have older equipment with some cracks, you can just tape them up. So, another situation where robbing can be a problem. If you harvest honey and you put it in your garage or somewhere like that and then bees can get into that, or heaven forbid, you leave a door open a crack, you’ll get a lot of bees inside there and they’re really a nuisance when you have large numbers of bees inside a building. 

So, you need to keep facilities bee tight so that you don’t have bees getting in there. We occasionally have problems with just like we have so many bees in this area. When we’re harvesting our honey right here, that can be a problem, so we have to be really vigilant. But, what some beekeepers choose to do is not have any bees on their property where they extract their honey, ’cause that helps prevent robbing behavior inside the facilities. Sometimes, robbing behavior gets so bad that some individual colonies get kind of picked on. And, you’ll see huge amounts of activity near the entrance, a lot of fighting bees at the entrance. And, if we have a wide open entrance, it’s very difficult for the guard bees to protect their hive. So, what we can do in that case is reduce the entrance and that’ll help stop the swarming from happening. An upper entrance like this is fine. It’s nice and small, easy to defend. But this big, wide entrance at the bottom is less easy to defend. And so, we can just tuck an entrance reducer in there and that’ll make it much easier for the bees to defend their entrance. 

In the spring of the year when we first check on our colonies, sometimes we think we have a live hive when actually what we have is a dead hive that’s being robbed. So, lots of bees going in and out of the entrance. If that happens for any length of time, you’ll see this sticky residue near the entrance. As the bees come out, they wipe their feet off before they fly home, and so, they leave this residue at the front of the hive. So, that’s a telltale sign. When we come back from the bee yard when we’re harvesting honey, we unload as quickly as possible before bees smell what’s going on, and we were able to get it into the building before there’s too much robbing starting. But, we do have to move quickly. Any time we have loads sitting around, if that load shifts at all, there’s any openings, bees will be finding that that honey inside there. So, we really want to protect all this honey from robber bees. So, we tape it up there whenever they’re above the bee escape because we can come back in two or three days and have our honey totally gone, robbed out by other bees.